Quote: Will you marry me? –anonymous man two rows in front of us
Lena and I drove through the downpour to watch Train and Maroon 5
perform at Hershey’s Star Pavillion on Monday the 15th. Would have made
more sense for us to go to a later concert down at Merriweather, but the
next day was Lena’s last day of working as our au pair before leaving for a job with a new family in San Francisco.
When Lena arrived a year ago, I’d already moved to the 8th floor of Hopkins. I was in emergency mode: music was of no interest. Instead, I was reading everything I could about Evelyn’s illness. After the first month of treatment we were allowed home. I was a whirlwind, trying to make up to everyone the time I’d missed and finally meeting Lena, who’d been living and working at my house while I was at Hopkins.
But, I already knew what I needed to know about this young woman. A few days after Evelyn was diagnosed I sent an e-mail to Lena in Germany asking if she would like to go to a different family, one without a special-needs child. She wrote me within a few hours and told me that 1) she had a twin sister 2) her mother died from leukemia and 3) of course she was coming to help. She lived up to those words.
At home we easily worked together and one day Lena said, I have a song by John Legend I want you to listen to. The next day she had her computer out and pulled me over. This is Bruno Mars. He’s singing Grenade. And so she re-introduced me to the power of music, of images that connect below the surface and pull out emotions. Next step? Concert. Watching a live performance is such a multi-sensory experience: the amplified sound, the crowd’s collective response.
Lena and I went with 80,000 other people to watch one of my old favorite bands –U2—and one of my new favorite bands –Florence and the Machine, tickets a thoughtful and appreciated birthday gift from Mike.
It seemed appropriate then for my final gift to Lena to be tickets to see Train, on their “Save Me San Francisco” tour, and the popular Maroon 5. It was fun. The performances were energetic, jokes made about the rain, and there was plenty to see between the slide show of where Lena was moving in a few days, the man ahead of us proposing while Pat Monahan sang “Marry Me”, and Adam Levine starting with “Moves Like Jagger” and kicking his leg into the air every other song.
This concert was bittersweet. At some points I was able to give over to the songs, but at others I remembered that Lena was leaving, that Mike’s father had just died, that there was still sadness and confusion in my family. Part of me was jealous of Lena’s new adventure, leaving the East coast behind, starting fresh, so much to still look forward to while I stayed behind writing out chore sheets and packing school lunches. But, the greater (and better!) part of me was proud of her spirit, her bravery, and her willingness to take risks.
So, Lena, thank you your hard work this past year. Thank you for being independent, for being the best communicator in the house even though English is your second language. Thank you for asking me how I was doing. Raise your glass (of water) high in the air. Prost!